Carl Hester: The shows will go on *H&H VIP*

  • Although sad the London International Show didn’t come off this year (news, 2 February), I agree with British Dressage (BD) chief executive Jason Brautigam that it was always going to be challenging, and that Dan Watson’s vision to bring dressage to a wider audience at ExCel was innovative and ambitious. I’m glad to see BD working with Dan and the organising committee to see if the show could be viable in the future.

    Spectators are the lifeblood of shows so if you were hoping to visit, don’t forget that the BD winter championships are on at Hartpury that week (12-16 April), with two evening gala performances. So come and support this fabulous fixture.

    It is heartening that international dressage is back at Royal Windsor Horse Show and newly scheduled at the Bolesworth International in June. There’s Hartpury CDI in July, then of course there’s Hickstead CDI. Dane Rawlins has five five-star international judges lined up and the show’s well placed for a run before the European Championships in Gothenburg in August. While Dane’s still seeking sponsors, I was delighted to hear that funds are now at the halfway mark, so the show will go on.

    You can all help by joining the 1000 Club. I’ve said before that if all the riders donated a grand it would help, but so far only me and my fellow H&H columnist Anna Ross have coughed up. Enthusiasts and supporters are doing it, so come on riders; get cracking and set up those lecture demos to raise a grand. I’ll be knocking on your doors if you don’t stump up. Everyone who joins the 1000 Club will get a car pass, entry to the show and the 1000 Club hospitality lounge — plus 20% off tickets to the ball in aid of Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice and Dreamflight.

    Plus, Dane’s going to put on a special, national, all-levels class, which will be a great chance to introduce up-and-coming horses (and riders!) to the international atmosphere. It’ll take place on the trot-up day and will only be open to 1000 Club members who can enter themselves or nominate an entry. Email dane@dressagemasters.org soonest. I’m donating two tickets to one of my open days as one of the prizes in kind.

    Boost to the judges’ list

    I was interested to hear about the first round of the new judges’ exams. The new judge testing system is a three-part process comprising a written multiple-choice paper, a DVD paper and a practical assessment. Yes, it’s like school, not sitting at home with a glass of wine watching a DVD! The first round of parts one and two were held recently at 13 venues across the country, at which 179 people were tested, with a further round in June. Everyone who passed parts one and two will be allocated a place at a practical assessment in March or April. Under the old system an average of 100 people a year were tested.

    I gather there had been some gnashing of teeth, but as pass rates vary at each paper and level, there will be some who fail and think the system’s rubbish. But with no time restrictions on how quickly or how often a judge can be tested, BD can speed up the process of producing well trained, proficient judges — which is much needed.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 16 February 2017